Everyone wants to ensure that their laptop battery will last as long as possible. Whether you need it for that paper due at midnight or for that high-intensity video game, minimizing the likelihood of a sudden computer shut down is the goal.
You can keep your laptop plugged in while using it, but it should be unplugged from the power source frequently for battery longevity.
Keeping a laptop plugged in all the time, regardless of whether you are using it or not, will wear down the battery more quickly. Here’s what to do for best results:
- Plug in your laptop while using it
- Unplug your laptop frequently
- Keep your battery charge between 40-80%
- Store your laptop in a cool area
You want to get the most use out of your laptop and its battery, avoid the inconvenience of having your computer cut off in the middle of a school project or an important work proposal. Check out the facts below to find out how laptop batteries work and ways that you can prolong its life.
Why Not Keep a Laptop Battery at 100% All the Time
Like most people, I have gotten that sense of reassurance when I look in the corner of my laptop screen and see that the battery charge is at 100%. In my mind, that means that it will last longer if I need to unplug my computer and carry it around to different places that may not have outlets readily available.
As it turns out, consistently charging a laptop to 100% and then draining it can have the opposite effect. The reasons for this are:
- Laptop batteries have a finite number of cycles. Meaning, once it’s charged and then drained, a cycle has been used up.
- The drain is rough on your battery. All that excess energy from such a big drain actually lessens the number of cycles the battery will have during its life.
In short, even though trying not to let your battery charge beyond 80% seems counterintuitive, it can actually prolong the life of the battery and can make it more resilient and last longer when you do not have it plugged in.
How to Keep Track of Laptop Battery Life
So now that you know the ideal charging percentage, the tricky part is keeping the charge in that range. Honestly, though, who is going to remember to glance at the corner of their screen every few minutes to see how much charge is left?
Fortunately, there are several ways to keep track of your charge, ranging from somewhat more time-intensive to built-in systems on your laptop.
There is always the manual option. Plug your laptop until it has reached 80% battery life, then unplug it. Go about your business but set timers for yourself to check on the battery until you see it has reached 40%. Take note of how long it took to drop to that percentage level, and each time you plug it in, set a timer for that amount.
If you’re looking for something a little simpler for your MacBook or your Windows 10 operating system, below are some easier ways to keep track of battery life.
|MacBook||If you’re looking for convenience and are okay with spending a few dollars, the Apple store has an app you can download that will alert you when your battery level has dropped or risen to a certain percentage point.|
|Windows 10||If you have a Windows 10 operating system, you can set an alarm by accessing and editing the Power Options via the Control Panel.|
How to Keep Your Laptop Cool
Laptops thrive and work their best in the specific temperature range of 50-95 Fahrenheit (10-35 Celsius). While the likelihood of your laptop becoming too cool in your home that is specifically designed for your comfort of around 72 degrees is pretty low, overheating can become an issue. Particularly with batteries, as so much energy goes into them.
When a laptop battery is completely charged, the energy from being connected to an outlet stops going into the battery and instead goes into the rest of the laptop. This can lead to the laptop overheating, as well.
Here are the four best things you can do to reduce the likelihood of overheating:
- Know your machine. Be aware of your laptop’s limitations. Does it tend to get warm quickly? If so, make sure you do the following things even more frequently.
- Take a break. Give your laptop time to cool down when you’re not using it.
- Unplug it. If you aren’t able to take a break (or even if you are, unplug from the power source. This will reduce the amount of energy going into it and give it a chance to chill.
- Store it someplace cool. Keep it in a cooler area of your home. For example, a room with a fan running.
Add-ons to Extend Your Laptop’s Battery Life
Maybe you are a hardcore gamer, or the entirety of your work takes place on your laptop. In that case, and if you have a little extra money, it may be worth it to invest in some additional features that can extend your laptop’s battery life.
Two options to consider adding to your laptop are RAM and SSD.
- RAM or Random-Access Memory – This is what your computer has in addition to its hard drive that helps keep track of and process the information you store. If your laptop does not have a lot of memory, you can buy more and add it to your laptop. This, in turn, lessens the pressure on the hard drive, which then uses less battery power. Win-win!
- The SSD or solid-state drive – This is an addition that you can put on your laptop to help with storage. The SSD stores and processes things very quickly, which means your laptop will be faster. If your laptop is faster, that means you complete the tasks quicker, which means the battery will be used less. Nothing to complain about there!
Other Ways to Extend Laptop Battery Life
Now that we’ve gone over mechanical and environmental issues that may be causing your laptop battery to wear down sooner, what are some other actions you can take that you may not have thought about?
- Keep track of the games and apps that you have running. You wouldn’t think so, but some of them can actually use a ton of energy. You can find out just how much energy that app or that fun game you play every now and then takes up by going into the Task Manager on your laptop.
- Lower the brightness on your screen. In addition to putting less strain on your eyes, it can lower the stress on the battery and make it last longer.
- Don’t let the charge get too low. In addition to not keeping your laptop plugged in all the time, make sure to plug it in before the battery percentage gets too low. As it turns out, extremes in either direction are not good for the battery or can lower its lifespan.
- Shut down unnecessary connections. If you are not connected to a power source, and you are not using it for anything important, turn off the Wi-Fi and Bluetooth. This can be a great battery saver option while you are traveling.
Our laptops provide so much for us, from entertainment to helping us maintain our livelihood. What better way to show our appreciation than by doing what we can to help it run smoothly and last as long as possible?
Hamid Tahir is a Mechatronics Engineer and founder of WFH Overload. He is currently working from home and is dedicated to the continuous improvement of his home office setup. Hamid has extensive experience setting up workspaces and dealing with the related tech. He hopes to share his knowledge to help you create the most productive and comfortable work from home setup. Read More